PV Salvador: Developing merchant Solar Power

Location: Diego de Almagro, Atacama (Chile)
Partners: Etrion, Total and Solventus Energías Renovables
Installed capacity: 68 MWac (70 MWdc)

70,000
number of Chilean households supplied with solar power from the PV Salvador plant
non
Total Nuevas Energias solar power plants - Sunpower Centrale Solaire Total Nuevas Energias Chile - Sunpower

In the Atacama region of Chile, our SunPower affiliate has built one of the world’s largest merchant solar power plants. SunPower now operates and maintains the 68-MWac (70-MWdc)-plant, which has been producing electricity for Chile since early 2015.

Chile is working to diversify its energy mix, and the PV Salvador power plant is a key part of this effort. The photovoltaic solar power plant operates on a merchant model under which electricity is sold wholesale at the market rate (versus a fixed price set by contract) to Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC), the national power grid.
The model takes advantage of the region’s unique features, which include:

  • Abundant sunshine
  • Low construction costs
  • Growing electricity demand

With 160,000 photovoltaic modules, PV Salvador supplies electricity to 70,000 homes. Etrion, Total and Solventus partnered to make this project possible. The three groups own the power plant, with interests of 70%, 20% and 10%, respectively.

A Solar Power Plant in the Chilean Desert

Construction under difficult conditions

PV Salvador’s location created the biggest challenge during the construction phase. The power plant is located in a remote corner of the desert, far from any cities. This presented serious logistical constraints for the construction teams. Climate conditions were a further challenge. Despite the relatively mild temperatures, solar irradiation levels are extremely high. As a result, it was particularly important for us to take measures to protect our employees.